21 apartments proposed for First Street project in downtown St. Charles
Among the bustling businesses and pedestrian-friendly amenities that make up downtown St. Charles, a proposed four-story residential development could help round out the city's vision for its First Street corridor.
Slated for a vacant grassy lot just east of Blue Goose Market, the 21-unit apartment building would be one of three final pieces of the First Street redevelopment project. A concept plan received preliminary support Tuesday from aldermen, who voted as a committee to designate R&B Development, LLC as the developer of the city-owned property.
Building plans call for six two-bedroom and 15 one-bedroom apartments, constructed above 19 ground-level parking spaces designated for residents. City officials said they believe the proposal fits well into the downtown area south of Main Street, where mixed-use developments and streetscape improvements have transformed the properties between Route 31 and the Fox River.
"I think the use is very consistent with what we've talked about doing on First Street," Alderman Dan Stellato said. "I say we move forward."
The most recent phase of the First Street project included the construction of three riverfront buildings, which contained fewer residential units than originally planned, said Russell Colby, assistant community and economic development director. As the city began seeking developers for three remaining parcels within the project area, he said, officials looked for opportunities to incorporate some additional housing and increase foot traffic downtown.
St. Charles already has an agreement in place with Frontier Development, LLC for the construction of a restaurant and office building at Illinois Street and Route 31. If the R&B apartment building moves forward, that leaves only one city-owned property available for redevelopment in the First Street corridor: a temporary parking lot at Illinois and First streets.
"From an economic development standpoint, this presents an opportunity to continue the momentum that we have (experienced) the past couple of decades," Community and Economic Development Director Rita Tungare said.
R&B Development, led by Bob Rasmussen and Rick Dahl, is the only group to express interest in the vacant lot next to Blue Goose, Colby said. Rasmussen has been involved in prior phases of the First Street project and lauded the city for its ability to facilitate such a plan.
If ratified by the city council, the memorandum of understanding presented Tuesday gives developers 120 days to submit plans for the apartment building and negotiate a redevelopment agreement with St. Charles. Rasmussen and Dahl are asking the city to convey the property to them, Tungare said, and to design and fund the completion of adjacent streetscape improvements, such as sidewalks and landscaping.
Some aldermen expressed concerns regarding the residential building's design and parking plan, though officials said those details would be worked out during the approval process.
The goal is to present the project for final approval within the next four months so construction could begin this summer, Tungare said.